Sanjay Singh, before he was chairman and CEO of Mace Security International, lead a business in the acquisition of a lower-middle-market manufacturing company that was a fierce competitor. That made post-deal integration a challenge.
"The environment was a bit terse," Singh says. "I think some of the employees were taken by surprise that the owner was selling the company. In fact, the very first announcement that was made by the owner to their management team with our management team being present in the same room was a bit awkward, as you can imagine."
Singh took the approach of being adaptable, open and flexible, not walking in thinking that he and his team knew all the answers. That helped them overcome a lot of the animosity.
"One of the turning points in the first hundred days was when a group of employees from the plant floor came to me in the conference room and asked me what I thought the real issues were while we were trying to figure out and identify those issues — Number one, if I had a sense of those issues; number two, did I have a solution?" he says. "And during their conversation, what came about was I felt that in the first hundred days by being active listeners, we had built up some level of trust and openness where the folks felt comfortable to say that they didn't know how to solve the problem."
After he offered a couple of solutions, he says they asked him to talk to the general manager. They got everybody together and started laying out plans.
"It was not easy at all," he says. "When you have people who have worked in an organization that have 15-20-plus years of experience, merely telling them or asking them to do something, it's not going to happen. So, we had to figure out other ways to persuade them and then one of the ways we did that was to be open and flexible. That was the start of the journey, which in the first hundred days I'm glad we did, because it set the tone for future months."
Singh spoke on the Smart Business Dealmakers Podcast about the details of the deal, and how and why the first hundred days were a critical time to ensure the maximization of the deal's potential.